How to Eat Steak on a Budget


Grilling Steak: A Step-by-Step Image Gallery Sure, she looks friendly enough. But she works at a restaurant, so tread very carefully. See more pictures of grilling steak.
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­One of the great shames of life is that the region of your brain that governs hunger doesn't communicate with the region of your brain that knows you're broke. Just because you're craving a steak doesn't mean you can afford it, and knowing you can't afford a juicy porterhouse does nothing to curb your need for one. However, tricks abound for satiating your culinary desires in these dour economic times.

Eating steak on a budget means dealing with some cold, hard facts. For one, forget about ordering one in a restaurant. Market research analysts predict that the food service market in the U.S. will grow at an annual growth rate of close to 6 percent by 2021, so while Americans spend a lot of money of dining out each year, it is possible to recreate high-end meals at home for much less than the cost of an average restaurant meal [source: [Technavio].

How do you save cash by staying home and whipping up the same meal you would've ordered at the steak house? After ­all, in the U.S., restaurants customarily don't mark up the prices on cuts of meat served as entrées as much as they do other items. In fact, the price of a steak as it appears on a restaurant's menu may cost only a few dollars more than what the restaurant paid for it. You're paying for the operating costs that restaurant owners must consider -- employee pay and benefits, power bills, maintenance and more -- and they must prodigiously mark up certain items to cover these expenses and turn a profit. For example, a side salad may be priced at five or ten times the restaurant's cost [source: UC Davis]. Extravagances like liquor and dessert are usually marked up several hundred percent [source: Frank].

­Since any steak lover would likely throw out any semblance of thrift upon entering, say, Peter Luger's, you should try avoiding temptation altogether. This doesn't mean resigning yourself to a lifetime of ground beef. In fact, you can ­have a restaurant-style meal at home for pennies on the dollar compared to the cost of going to a steak house. The Web site MyRecipes.com found it could match a dinner at the American steak house chain Ruth's Chris, complete with lobster bisque, iceberg lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing, dessert and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. The restaurant charged $75.45 per person for a New York Strip and two sides, while the at-home version of the same meal cost only $17.30 per person [source: MyRecipes].